The Ravens have welcomed back an outside linebacker to the mix two days after losing a member of their offensive line for at least the next few games.
Reserve edge defender Jaylon Ferguson was activated from the reserve-COVID-19 list after rookie left guard Ben Cleveland was placed on injured reserve with a left knee injury suffered in the second quarter of Monday’s 31-25 overtime win over Indianapolis. The third-round pick out of Georgia was carted off the field, but he indicated via his official Twitter account that the injury wasn’t expected to sideline him for the rest of the season, which head coach John Harbaugh confirmed Wednesday. Players placed on IR are eligible to return after sitting out a minimum of three games.
Inactive for the season opener after missing valuable time in the preseason because of a concussion, Cleveland had been splitting snaps with third-year offensive lineman Ben Powers, who’s started the last four games at left guard.
“I think it’s an opportunity for Ben Cleveland to get experience but not have to play every play,” said offensive coordinator Greg Roman about the left guard rotation last week. “Also, for the other Ben, he plays really hard, and it gives him a chance to catch his breath. I think we’re getting one-and-a-half out of one there. So, we’ll continue to do that, and then you’re always ready to adjust.”
That adjustment may come in the form of second-year offensive lineman Tyre Phillips, who was designated to return to practice from IR last Saturday. The Week 1 starting left guard injured his left knee and was carted off the field in the second quarter of that season-opening loss at Las Vegas and was placed on IR the next day. Phillips, a 2020 third-round pick out of Mississippi State, started eight games as a rookie and saw extensive time at both right guard and right tackle.
Ferguson was placed on the COVID-19 list after testing positive for the virus on Sept. 24, which resulted in three other players — outside linebacker Justin Houton and defensive tackles Brandon Williams and Justin Madubuike — missing the Week 3 win at Detroit after being deemed high-risk close contacts. Asked about Ferguson’s status last weekend, Harbaugh said the third-year outside linebacker had still been experiencing symptoms and wasn’t yet cleared to return.
With Cleveland going to IR and Ferguson being activated, the Ravens entered Wednesday’s practice with 50 players on their 53-man roster. Two of those open spots should soon be filled by Phillips and rookie wide receiver Rashod Bateman, who was designated to return to practice from IR on Sept. 29 and hopes to make his NFL debut against the Los Angeles Chargers on Sunday afternoon. Bateman, the 27th overall pick in this year’s draft out of Minnesota, suffered a groin injury early in training camp and underwent surgery on Aug. 13.